Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The French fuck with my head yet again

Martyrs 2008
Director: Pascal Laugier
Writer: Pascal Laugier
Starring Morjana Alaoui, Mylene Jampanoi and Catherine Begin

The modern French horror film really seems to be showing Hollywood how to make great horror again, beginning with Inside and continuing with Frontiere(s). The trinity seems to be complete with Martyrs. I had heard many great things about this film but I was wary, as I doubted anything could have topped Inside, my favorite horror film of last year, but Martyrs has surpassed it by leaps and bounds. Martyrs is a descent into despair and depravity, that anyone who witnesses it will not remain unscathed. This film makes Inside look like Bambi. I don't think a film has affected me this much since I first viewed Cannibal Holocaust.
The plot setup is such, Lucie (Jampanaoi) as a little girl escaped from a den of torture and is residing in a orphanage with Anna (Alaoui) who she befriends. She tries to comfort her, but she has emotional issues until one evening it seems as if some ungodly beast is attacking her. Flash forward 15 years later, and we meet a family of 4, and it seems an idyllic vision till Lucie bursts in with a shotgun and kills them all even the kids. She then calls Anna and she arrives and it looks as if Lucie was attacked by her demon again. Anna treats her, but is conflicted with what she is done, and sees that one of the victims is still alive and tries to save her, which fails and things just spiral out of control from that point, until you reach the utter depravity and bleakness that is the ending.
Damn, this was a hard film to sit through, but you couldn't tear your eyes away from it. It was horrifying but somewhat hypnotic. Even after finishing watching this yesterday, I cannot stop thinking about it and it has been a long time since a horror film has done that and that is what all the best horror films do. The direction is tense and surprising, this movie shifts on several occasions, as you think the film is going down one road , but leads you down another. The writing is really tight as well, you really feel for Anna and want her to survive this ordeal. The effects were insane, some of the best technical make up effects I have sen since Inside. The actors were all amazing too especially Alaoui and Jampanaoi. They really bring a gravitas toward their performances that make you feel for them body and soul. Also, I enjoyed Begin as Mademoiselle, who reminded me quite a bit of the Architect from the Matrix Reloaded. This was a jarring film, but a important one I think and every horror fan should see this one, just don't expect it to be a pleasant experience.
This one gets 5 out of 5

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